Speech at the releasing of the Old Seminary Stamp

Respected Rashtrapatiji Shri Pranab Mukherjee, distinguished political and religious leaders, Officials of the Postal Department, dear brothers and sisters,

I thank God Almighty for this gracious occasion. This event will remain forever in the history of our ancient Malankara Orthodox Church and its “Old Seminary”, closely associated with the early 19th century cultural renaissance in Kerala. Marking the bicentenary of the Seminary, also called the “Cottayam College” the Postal Department of our Country is releasing a stamp which carries the Icon of the Old Seminary, Kottayam, Kerala.

Founded in 1815, the Seminary stands as a monument to the confluence of eastern and western traditions of learning. It is the cradle of the systematic study of classical languages and Holy Scriptures of diverse religious traditions. As a recognition to the worshipping and the peace loving community of St. Thomas Christians, the Regent Queen of the Travancore Royal family, Her Royal Highness Gowri Lakshmi Bhai granted sixteen acres of land, free of cost, to the Pulikottil Joseph Ramban for setting up a ‘padithaveedu’ (house for study). That tradition of tolerance and peace between the Orthodox Christians and the larger society continues to these days in large measure. The Indian postal stamp being released today is a fitting tribute to the role played by the Seminary in shaping the educational and spiritual heritage of Kerala.

The officials of the Postal Department of India, with the good prompting from several of the distinguished political leaders of the State of Kerala, took commendable efforts in the publishing of this Stamp. Words are hardly enough to appreciate the efforts of these esteemed professionals. Today their efforts are crowned on the occasion of the release of this stamp at the hands of none other than the respected Rashtrapathi of India. We consider it a great honour paid to the ancestral leaders of our community in Kerala who heroically resisted all the undue interventions of foreign powers in the religious freedom and political governance of our Indian Christian community ever since the Portuguese colonial rule in the 16th century. They taught us to stand by the authentic tradition of faith and to give unreserved  allegiance to the freedom and integrity of our country. We bow our heads in gratitude on this momentous occasion as the first citizen of our great nation releases this commemorative stamp.

I do not want to limit the meaning of this occasion to a celebration of the past. Taking a step further, I would prefer to see this instance as a symbol of our unfailing commitment to the proud heritage of our nation. The Old Seminary has always made its own modest contributions to the life of our nation and this commemoration would recap its further commitment to the country. We assure the nation that we will continue to stand for peace, progress and unity of the people of India while rejoicing in the peaceful coexistence of the diverse cultures and faith traditions of our country.

I thank each one of you for all your excellent efforts in making this day a memorable one for us. This occasion invariably gives us greater impetus to motivate all our flock, especially our younger generation, to creatively contribute to the rich fabric of our cultural and religious diversity as well as unity. May God Almighty bless our nation and its committed leaders.